Kuala Selangor out to get Ramsar listing for wetlands

A file picture of the wetlands in the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, which could be the first Ramsar site in Selangor.

A file picture of the wetlands in the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, which could be the first Ramsar site in Selangor.

IF ALL goes well, the Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP) will be the first site in Selangor to be designated as a Ramsar site (Convention on Wetlands), said Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president Ahmad Ismail.

He said the society analysed the criteria set by Ramsar and found that the park could qualify for the recognition.  

“Now the application procedure must go through the state and federal government, namely the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry,” he said at the closing of the Bioblitz Seminar, a one-day series of talks on nature conservation at KSNP.

The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty for the conservation of wetlands.

The treaty was signed in 1971 and named after the city in Iran where the convention was held.

Among the wetland areas to be included in the international Ramsar list is the Sundarbans Reserved Forest in Kulna, Bangladesh; Pantanal in South America; and the Everglades in Florida, United States. 

In Malaysia, the seven Ramsar sites are in Sabah, Sarawak, Pahang and Johor.

“The process is still at the beginning stages. MNS has proposed that the Kuala Selangor District Council (MDKS) take it to the state level as the gazetting of the land will fall under state jurisdiction.

“The ministry will then proceed to apply for the Ramsar listing,” added Ahmad.

MDKS secretary Azman Dahlan said the council welcomed similar initiatives by the community and NGOs as long as it contributed to sustainable development.

“Often, when we plan for a town’s development, we forget about its natural resources and wildlife. “At MDKS, we place importance on nature conservation because there is an economic multiplier effect that comes with eco-tourism,” said Azman.

Famed for its fireflies and silverleaf monkeys, Azman said if the council did not take pains to preserve its natural heritage, it would be a big loss to the state.

“We have advanced countries coming up with man-made botanical gardens to attract tourists. But here, nature is right in front of us. It has to be gazetted and preserved.

“If we destroy it through uncontrolled and unplanned development, that would be like throwing our heritage and ‘oxygen tank’ away,” said Azman.

On the Ramsar listing, Azman has high hopes for all parties to work together to bring it to fruition.

MNS chairman Mashhor Mansor, who was part of the discussion panel, stressed the need for hard data in the research reports to be included in the proposal.

“Researchers must list the keystone species. For example, we must know how many species of fish can be found here, what are the migratory patterns of the birds, what are the seasons, timing and how far they go.

“Our researchers also need to network with other South-East Asian countries to compare and exchange data,” he added.

Panel speaker and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Ahmad Aldrie Amir reminded those present at the seminar that with a successful listing came commitment from the authorities and the local community to adhere to the rules.

“In world heritage sites, for example, no development is allowed.

“In protected sites, there are strict rules for those who want to enter these areas,” said Dr Ahmad.

Tour guides, for example, must be prepared to limit the number of people in groups in order to comply with conservation guidelines.

Also present was Peninsular Malaysia Wildlife and National Parks Department Datuk Fakhrul Hatta Musa who pledged to support MNS’ effort in terms of management structure plans and event participation.

Central Region